Football versus War
Robert A. Hall
An NFL team carries 53 players on it's roster, slightly larger than an infantry platoon in the Marines or Army (if memory serves). So lets compare a platoon in combat to a football game.
The difficulty is that combat can vary in duration and intensity, not only war to war but situation to situation. But in a fairly high-intensity war, for which our troops must train, a platoon could be in sustained combat from two to six weeks. Lets say four weeks, with fighting perhaps going on almost 24/7. During that time, they might go short of food and water, surely short of sleep, with few or no chances to wash or change clothes. They might expect twenty percent casualties, though that, too, can vary widely, depending on the enemy and the circumstances. It could be many more, with 100% dead happening, though rarely. (A Marine friend was one of only four survivors when his platoon was overrun in
and he has nasty scars on his head from his wounds. And nightmares still.) But
three to eight dead, and twice that many wounded, some slightly, others very
badly, would not be unusual. Medical care might be long delayed by the
circumstances they find themselves in. Supplies of ammo, clothing, and
medicines might run very short. The mental wounds of living under threat of
death, and seeing friends die next to them, or suffer from untreated wounds,
would stay with them for a lifetime. During the course of a long war, they
could expect to face this type of combat several times. (And as a retired
infantry office reminds me, once you add guns, the calculation changes: "To
my mind, the salient question is, 'what if said girl players could avoid ever
being thrown into the line by sleeping with the coach?'")
In that same time frame an NFL team would (during the season) play four games, or 240 minutes of playing time. But it would be a rare player who would be in those games for even 120 total minutes. In that time, there might be four to six injuries, maybe one or two that took the player out for the season or even ended his career. A death would be so rare as to make the national news for weeks, and prompt calls for changes and investigations. During that time, the players would be well-fed, get all the water--or Gatorade--they wanted, get showers and clean clothes after every game, have their equipment replaced immediately if there were a malfunction, and have x-ray machines, whirlpool baths and massage therapists available for any problems.
So if I offered you a choice of starting for an NFL team for the next four games, or going into four weeks of intense infantry combat with a platoon of Marines or soldiers, which would be your better bet? I'm guessing you picked football. You would likely get knocked out of the game on the first play that came your way, but you'd almost certainly live.
So if NFL Football is so much less dangerous and stressful than combat, we can surely test the proposition that women should go into combat by requiring that every NFL team start three women on offense and three on defense for four games. If that works out well, they can go on to try combat, where people actually die, often horribly.
I'm thinking Rep.
Pelosi at center and Sen. Diane Feinstein at linebacker for the San Francisco
Fortyniners. You'd sell a lot of tickets.